Lochmaddy Bay marina ideal to attract yachts

HRH Princess Royal opening the Comann Na Mara marina at  Lochmaddy. Below - Gus Macaulay CNM chairman with the Princess Royal.
HRH Princess Royal opening the Comann Na Mara marina at Lochmaddy. Below - Gus Macaulay CNM chairman with the Princess Royal.

The Princess Royal received a warm welcome when she visited Lochmaddy to open the Comann Na Mara (CNM) marina this week.

More than 300 people gathered alongside the new facility to celebrate the opening.

The project is the flagship in the Crown Estate’s drive to invest in coastal communities.

The 26 berth marina in Lochmaddy Bay was built by CNM with funding of more than £410,000 from the Crown Estate.

A pioneering Local Management Agreement was struck up two years ago between the two sides, along with North Uist Estates.

Under the agreement, CNM now has its own area of the foreshore and seabed to operate under licence.

More than 300 yachts from all over Europe and the UK have tied up on the pontoons in their first two months of operation, bringing noticeable economic benefits to the island community.

Lochmaddy’s hotel, shop and arts centre have already seen benefits worth thousands of pounds from visiting yachtsmen, with car hire and other island attractions also benefitting.

The floating pontoons have light, power and water, with laundry facilities due to be installed soon, and a phase two planned with toilet block and showers.

Before cutting the ribbon on the bridge to the pontoons, the Princess Royal, who is a keen sailor, told the community that although there are plenty of sheltered anchorages along the west coast islands, a facility like the Lochmaddy marina was ideally placed in the centre of the Outer Hebrides to attract the yachting community.

The Crown Estate ‘s Scottish Commissioner Gareth Baird said: “Working with Comann Na Mara has shown the success of the collaborative approach and offers a model which we are using to benefit other coastal communities across Scotland.”

He added: “Sailing brings between £280 and £300 m into the Scottish economy every year. This facility will help put the Western Isles on the map when it comes to marine tourism, providing crucial links in the west coast network and ensuring the Isles reap the economic rewards.”

Accompanied by CNM chairman Gus Macaulay and company secretary and deputy lieutenant George MacDonald, the Princess Royal walked along the pontoons to speak to local lifeboat crews and to the skipper of a visiting Finnish yacht.

Mr Macaulay said: “This great day marks the start of an exciting new era of marine tourism in Uist to which everyone can contribute and from which everyone can benefit.”

Uist’s strong musical traditions also accompanied the Princess on her visit, with a Gaelic psalm sung to her by three precentors, tunes from the two local pipe bands, Gaelic songs from the primary children and local musicians, and a gentle clarsach tune from 12 year old Anna MacIain.

The Princess joined community celebrations in Lochmaddy Hotel, where she was also shown more of the work of CNM, including its pioneering underwater camera system to view the wonders of the deep off Uist.